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Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

Remake clashes with original’s tone
Clash of the Titans
Genre: Action
Running Time: 110 min
Release Date: 2010-04-02
Tags: There are no tags.
By "Lawrence Toppman"
The Charlotte Observer

A soldier armoring himself for battle in the “Clash of the Titans” remake pokes around in a box and digs out a whirring, metallic owl with bejeweled eyes. “What is this?” he asks aloud. “Just leave it,” grunts a comrade, pushing past him with spear and shield. Thus the torch is passed.

That owl came from the whimsical 1981 adventure, which ended an era. It was the last stop-motion movie by the great Ray Harryhausen, who used that technique for four decades to amuse and frighten adults and children. That film was cheesy in spots, strangely glamorous with its cast of great British stage actors playing Greek gods (Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith) and gentle fun if not taken seriously.

The updating comes at the beginning of another era, the decade of massive 3-D effects. Though three writers have been credited with this odd revision of Greek mythology, the movie hasn’t one character or sequence more memorable than the next. It’s as violent, humorless and brutally efficient as a Stalinist purge, a juggernaut of slaughter and smashing that stuns the senses and leaves nothing behind in the memory.

“Avatar” star Sam Worthington, here using the Australian accent with which he grew up, is an ideal hero for it: stone-faced as he growls curses at the gods, wading through swordfights without a glimmer of excitement or exultation. At one point, he plummets hundreds of feet through a glass ceiling into a fire pit, gets up and dashes off without changing his expression. He knows the movie is just an enormous video game, where you kill soulless creatures to get to the next level of combat and kill more dangerous beasts.

The plot sticks fairly closely to the original. Worthington plays Perseus, son of Zeus and a mortal mother whose husband murdered her on learning of her unconscious betrayal. (Zeus had taken the form of the husband.) Rootless Perseus, a demigod who can be hurt or slain but retains miraculous powers, ends up in Argos, where Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) is drawn to him.

On Olympus, however, discord arises. Zeus (Liam Neeson, looking like Aslan after electrolysis) wants heedless humans to respect the gods again and turn to them in prayer. Hades (Ralph Fiennes) says only fear will make mortals fall on their worshipful knees. He gets permission to give Argos an ultimatum: sacrifice Andromeda within 10 days, or the kraken (a squid on steroids) will arise from the depths to slay everyone.

This would be a small loss, as the populace of Argos has the collective IQ of a doorknob: Informed that the kraken is on its way, most citizens run to the waterfront to check it out. But Perseus rejects any interference from the gods. Aided by fellow demigod Io (Gemma Arterton), solemn warrior Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) and a host of disposable sidekicks, our hero sets out to slay the kraken, its underworld master and anyone on their Facebook pages.

The movie seems less like a remake than a mash-up of better films. Andromeda hangs in front of the kraken on ropes, like Fay Wray writhing before King Kong. Hades commands winged demons who look like the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.” From the Harry Potter films come Fiennes (doing a Voldemort knockoff), a surly guy named Draco and a hero who doesn’t know much about his dad and never learned the extent of his magic powers. Giant scorpions pay homage to Harryhausen himself, especially as their movements aren’t much more sophisticated than his creations from the 1970s.

That’s the final rub: The technology is sometimes eye-dazzling, sometimes clumsy. Director Louis Leterrier, fresh off the thudding 2008 version of “The Incredible Hulk,” doesn’t make much use of 3-D technology; the film was shot in 2-D, then added a third dimension after “Avatar” upped the ante. Nor does Leterrier make us believe all these fantastic beings really exist. They’re more credible than that chirping mechanical owl, of course. But after three decades, is that all audiences require?

Reviews & Comments
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4/1/2010 - The Charlotte Observer - Lawrence Toppman

Noisy, hyperactive remake of the 1981 version, faithful in story but not in tone.

(Full review)
Apr 04, 2010 - cowslinger64 on Clash of the Titans
He's right on this one...

I don't typically agree with his reviews, but on this one, he's pretty spot on. First off, do NOT pay the extra to see it in 3D. Every now and then I'd pull my glasses up just to see if it was actually shot in 3D. With Avatar, you could tell, with this movie, other than it being a little blurry at times, there was no way to tell. I didn't see a single shred of evidence, that anything was 3D..Period.

However, even in 2D, the movie lacks much substance. I rather liked the first Clash, as it didn't seem to take itself too seriously, as this one does. The storyline was choppy, the dialogue had little to add to the movie, and the action was just plain silly, for the most part. The scorpions were cool, but the Ginn were a waste, the Kraken was cool, but it had just a small bit in the actual movie itself.

The accents were poor, and seem to change from time to time. Why do Gods need a British accent? There was too much cliche, as well. Things popping up just at the nick of time. People dying just as they told some tidbit of important information. People dying and noone seems affected by it.

I dunno... save your money and wait for the dvd.

Apr 02, 2010 - tccox on Clash of the Titans
Not Too Bad...

But , and this part stunned me. Tickets were $12.50!!!!!! So, Two tickets for my son and myself, two drinks and one popcorn was $40.00. WOW!!!!! I thought movie was pretty good in a campy sorta way but not worth that. Guess I'm remembering when I worked at the Capri years ago and tickets were $2.00 and popcorn was 20 and 40 cents.

Apr 02, 2010 - CharlotteBlues on Clash of the Titans

Toppman does typically not like action MOVIES. He likes comedies..but he's not big on MOVIES. He's a FILM critic. Clash of the Titans wasn't meant to be a FILM. Like FAST AND FURIOUS -- it's just something to stuff your face too.

(no rating) Apr 02, 2010 - archiguy on Clash of the Titans
One of the best, that's who

southern_trill, what rock did you just crawl out from under? Larry Toppman has been reviewing films for decades at the Observer and is one of the most respected film critics in the country.

It's not about you, okay? It's about the movie, and "this guy" has forgotten more about film than you will ever know, clearly.

This movie had "garbage" written all over it from the test screenings. It's nothing more than CGI porn. The original did indeed have more heart. But that's not really what the teenage boys who will flock to this thing are looking for. So, southern, sounds like it's right up your alley. Enjoy! (But please, leave the review comments for adults.)

Apr 02, 2010 - DM86 on Clash of the Titans
Expectations to relive one's childhood are never met

While I have yet to see this movie, it sounds like this reviewer is pining for days of old. I dont recall the original Clash of the Titans receiving RAVE reviews in it's day and Harry Hamlin certainly did more to solidify his rememberance in LA Law than he did as Perseus in the original.
I was 13 years old when the original came out --I remember saying "Oh this is hokey!"
The original reminded me more of a Rankin-Bass holiday kiddie feature than something to be taken seriously. The new technology today lends itself to this sort of film.
Toppman's expectations for Clash to be reminiscent of his childhood is what is behind this review. -And expectations to relive one's childhood are usually never met.
Its a shame that Toppman doesnt review this film for what it is, bubble-gum, pop-culture fun and escapism. For everything that's going on in today's world, I believe that we could all stand an hour and a half gazing at some fantastic eye-candy like "Clash". I for one will likely plan to see this film now that I know that it is certainly unlike Harryhausen's 1981 flop.

(no rating) Apr 02, 2010 - phuckoph on Clash of the Titans
Topp always hates Action flick

Toppman has never liked action flicks. But he does look upon older action movies with rose colored glasses. His reviews are mostly drivel and i am hard pressed to find more than one or two reviews that i agree with him.

Apr 02, 2010 - southern_trill on Clash of the Titans
Who Is This Guy??

Who allowed this guy to Rate Movies is my question...LOL And who on Gods green earth allowed this guy's movie Opinion to matter so much that they put it in a News Paper..? LMAO

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